Property Rights

By Jeremy Daggett on in Property. Permalink.

Is the right to property a natural right?  In other words, does the fact that I am a human being with the right to life entail that I also have a right to possess property to help secure my right to life?  And if so, is it OK if I, living in Texas, own a million acres in Montana that I do not use for anything?  Should ownership be connected to use?

I would think those who are still very much connected to the earth in farming and ranching (and, you know, the Farmers and the Cowmen should be friends) would implicitly understand that ownership is closely tied to use, especially the Farmer.  I would think some religious communities, monks and the like, see this since they live it everyday.  But I think most of us don’t really have any idea about use and land, though most of us are utilitarians to one degree or another.  We may have jettisoned the idea of stewardship of the land long ago enough to have no idea how land and use are/should be connected.

I’m still forming my thoughts on this, but I figured I would bring it before you for discussion.

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2 Responses to “Property Rights”

  1. Montague says:

    I don’t think the right to property is tied directly to the right to life. In fact, the right to property is more connected to the right to pursue happiness; because apart from basic things like minimum food, water, shelter, etc (which can apart from being tasteless can be procured in a “property-less” society), material goods are generally used to procure pleasure. The right to property could be thought of as the right to tasty things and toys; which are perhaps the first things which children claim, and continue to claim as they grow older.

    Consider also the communal nature of the acreage in the old villages of Christendom; the fields were often quite communal if I’m not mistaken. Yet, the people were quite tied to the land. I think this is an example of use being independent somewhat of ownership…

    I also think I recall Chesterton saying something about the reason we oughtn’t steal things from the rich (who have more than they could use) because it would be like stealing toys from children – I think it was in one of his novels. Can anyone confirm that?

  2. Jeremy Daggett says:

    I would think that without the right to life, all other rights would be superfluous. And it does seem that in order to maintain life, I need a minimal amount of property.

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